Flying with a baby and toddler – A Mum’s guide

I have done quite a bit of travelling in my time, but not with two kids in tow. Now that I’m a mum of two young boys, travelling is a whole new ball game. It requires both parents to be on the ball. Not only to chase, carry/push kids around the airport but to carry all the extra luggage that goes with travelling with toddlers. And boy is there a lot of it!

We recently had our first trip with two kids, both under two years old and the most important thing I have learnt is that your packing skills need to be on point. We had a lot to consider when packing for our boys. Our eldest child is allergic to several foods and has very sensitive skin which means we needed to pack foods he can eat, medicine, EpiPen’s, creams, nappies and wipes. Our other youngest is a baby under 12 months, so we had a lot to pack for him including, nappies, wipes, nappy cream, special baby sunscreen, swim nappies as well as baby crackers and, of course, the baby food pouches which are actually quite heavy when you have a lot of them.

If you are already freaking out with how you will cope with travelling with young children, do not despair!  I’ll give you a rundown on how I packed, what to take and how to make your family holiday one to remember.

Planning your trip

One of the most important things to help with your trip, especially with children, no matter if you’re travelling domestic or international is planning. Things to consider are:

  • Vaccinations (International travel) Ensure you check with a doctor what you and your children may need and allow enough time for the vaccine to kick in, usually 4 weeks before you travel, is ideal. Children under 12 months are usually exempt from these types of vaccinations but it’s always good to check.
  • Travel Insurance Make sure to get Travel Insurance and read the policy in detail to understand what you are covered for. Some destinations and activities come at an additional cost to cover.
  • Flight Time Consider the best time to fly for your children, depending on your budget. Think about flight-times, you may want to consider a stopover to break up the journey. Or travel at night if your kids are good sleepers – this worked out best for us and the boys pretty much slept through.
  • Book a bassinet Ask your airline carrier for a bassinet if your child is under 12 months and under the weight limit (usually around 11kg and length of 72cm).

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Tips for packing your suitcase

Packing a suitcase can be a daunting experience in any situation. Where do you start? With a bit of preparation, packing can be a reasonably stress-free task.

Pack like a Pro.  Lay everything out on the floor or bed before you pack with a pile for each per person. Try to create a capsule wardrobe. You may love your blue wedges, but if they only go with one sundress they’re a waste of valuable space. Opt instead for pieces that can be worn with at least 3 other items. This goes for your kid’s wardrobe too. Opting for a rough colour palette (like white, blue and grey) can help with this and also saves time and stress during your holiday.

Make up a medical kit with the essentials such as Panadol, Nurofen for both the kid and adults, bandages, splints, bite cream, betadine wash, cold & flu tablets, hydralyte, gastro stop, thermometer, hydralyte Icey poles for kids, band-aids, saline nasal spray for kids. Trust me, we have used at least one of these items if not all, on the majority of our trips.

Re-check everything! Assess each pile a few times before you pack them into your case and be brutal! if you’re not sure you’ll need something, ditch it. Less is more. Once you’re ready, try to pack in order of the things you will need first. Placing bits like toiletries or the kids pyjamas, at the top of the case. This will save everyone pilling in and pulling things out from the bottom before you’ve had a chance to unpack.

Always weigh your luggage before you head to the airport. Factor in baggage allowance for additional or return flights, your allowance may differ if you have booked with a different airline. Paying for extra luggage or having to repack bags at the airport is annoying in any situation but with kids in tow, it’s a nightmare.

Carry-on essentials

  • A decent backpack – A decent sized backpack is essential for your trip but also perfect for your carry-on luggage, so check it will fit in the overhead locker. We used ours mainly for kids’ stuff. Pack items such as nappies in disposable nappy bags so they’re easy to grab to take to change child along with some wipes. Make use of any small pockets or use zip lock bags for items such as dummies, small toys, colouring books and crayon, etc.
  • A travel pram – A pram that you can take on board and folds up like Mountain Buggy Nano, Yoyo, Baby Jogger City Tour, is so handy when travelling through the airport with tired and young children, not to mention on the actual trip for toddler/baby naps, if the toddler gets tired walking.
  • Mountain Buggy Bag Glider – This is a great option for a toddler and gives them somewhere for them to sit moving through the airport.
  • Baby essentials – Pack twice as many nappies, wipes, milk, formula, snacks as you think you need for the flight. This might seem excessive but the last thing you want is to be caught short if the flight is delayed.
  • A change of clothes – Most people think of packing a change of clothes for the little one but packing a compact outfit for yourself and your partner can save you from an uncomfortable flight should you victim to any unfortunate leaks and spills.
  • Lollipop for take-off and landing – Sucking or chewing can alleviate pain caused by the change of cabin pressure when taking off and landing. For babies, a bottle or pacifier can help.
  • Medication – Don’t forget any medication your little ones may need. In my case, my son has food allergies so I packed things for him to eat/drink on the journey.
  • Entertainment – Buy new colouring/activity books, books to read and little toys. Preload iPads with their favourite shows/movies pre-downloaded, games, activities.

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Now you’re all set to go!

Last but not least…

I would recommend getting to the airport earlier than usual. With kids, everything takes much longer and you’ll be carrying a lot of extra stuff.

Line up early at the gate so you get priority onto the plane first to get overhead spots as well as not being rushed getting organized and settled into your seats.

Once on the plane set yourself up with things in the seat pocket in front, a few nappies in plastic nappy bags, wipes, tissues, food pouches, small bag of toys or activity things like an iPad. I think the key is to keep little ones entertained, and fed!

Snacks, snacks and more snacks! Now cross your fingers and enjoy, you are on holiday after all!



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